Man oh man, I have been busy! But it's a good kind of busy... I'm trying to finish up a few HUGE quilt orders while simultaneously launching my new project Nice Shirt, America.
What started as just a way to add some purpose to a cross country road trip has turned into a million new business ideas as well as a few revelations.
A comment on a previous post from Diane got me thinking. Where do I find my customers? Who are my customers? People always ask me that and I've always just said "people so obsessed with something that they have a t-shirt collection to prove it." How vague.
Still, I spent all of my time posting my links to style blogs and trying to connect with other crafters. I did the occasional ad in a high school newspaper or posted flyers around town or on some college campus, but I have to admit: I have NEVER gotten any paying business out of these efforts.
Why? Well, I think I have a few challenges. First, I offer a service. People have to feel like they are in need of this service. This can be a challenge because it's hard to reach people who have never even considered making their t-shirts into a quilt. They don't even know such a thing exists. Most of my current customers are people who have thought of this idea already and are in search of someone to accomplish it for them.
Second, my product would be considered a "luxury" item. It's a big purchase. So, my customers must really love these t-shirts. I think the economy adds to this challenge, but I'm not too worried about that at this point.
Lastly, I've always been asking myself "How do you find people with t-shirts?"
I kind of had a "duh" moment with this... and only AFTER I had started my Nice Shirt, America blog. I started the blog because I am genuinely interested in t-shirts and I wanted to talk to people on the streets about it while traveling around the country. Sounds like the best vacation ever to me. After thinking about it for a while I realized: This is it! This is how to market to people who love t-shirts... write about t-shirts. My business has very little to do with quilts, turns out. I'm pretty sure that my customers don't go to craft fairs and they don't really care about recycling (not that they *don't* care, it's just not their main motivator). They love their t-shirts! So, here I am to showcase that.
Of course, this project is an experiment. As with most marketing endeavors, it's difficult to predict the likelihood that anything will actually increase sales, but I think it's worth a try. I'll keep you updated as time goes on.
But the challenge for you: take a hard look at your product and your customers and find out who they really are.